The reason why AI is imagined as female: sexism

file-20180813-2894-1vuvasmVirtual assistants are increasingly popular and present in our everyday lives: literally with Alexa, Cortana, Holly, and Siri, and fictionally in films. These names demonstrate the assumption that virtual assistants, from SatNav to Siri, will be voiced by a woman. This reinforces gender stereotypes, expectations, and assumptions about the future of artificial intelligence.

Fictional male voices do exist, of course, but today they are simply far less common. Male artificial intelligence (AI) used to be more common, specifically in stories where technology becomes evil or beyond our control. Female AI on the other hand is, more often than not, envisaged in a submissive servile role. Another pattern concerns whether fictional AI is embodied or not.

When we can only seemingly imagine an AI as a subservient woman, we reinforce dangerous and outdated stereotypes. What prejudices are perpetuated by putting servile obedient females into our dreams of technology, as well as our current experiences? All this is important because science fiction not only reflects our hopes and fears for the future of science, but also informs it. The imagined futures of the movies inspire those working in tech companies as they develop and update AI, working towards the expectations formed in our fictions.

Read the full article in the Conversation

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